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The Holocaust, a time to memorialize, debate, debunk or debauch?

Holocaust Remembrance

A time to memorialize, debate, debunk or debauch?


Guest Publication by

Dr. Martin Friedhaus

[photos added to enhance the text]


[Please note that editorials posted in this section are the sole viewpoints of the individual author and do not necessarily

represent any collective opinion of the Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team, or the University of Northampton]


Tourists look at individually-painted dominoes along the former route of the Berlin Wall at the Brandenburg Gate.

World leaders joined German crowds on Monday to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall - a stark symbol of the Cold War that divided a city and a continent.


Recollections of November 9, 1989 dominated German newspaper headlines at the weekend, and television stations ran program after program of documentary footage, eyewitness accounts and discussion panels about the event that changed the face of Europe.


And while thousands of tourists have poured into the capital to mark the event which hastened the reunification of Germany, the collapse of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Soviet Union, many have chosen to overlook another event that changed the face of Germany and Europe that also happened on the 9th of November..

Kristallnacht  or "Night of Broken Glass" 

"Kristallnacht" is a German word that consists of two parts: "Kristall" translates to "crystal" and refers to the look of broken glass and "Nacht" means "night." The accepted English translation is the "Night of Broken Glass."

The most infamous Anti-Semitic Pogrom in recent history occurred on November 9, 1938.  Instigated primarily by Nazi party officials and the SA (Nazi Storm Troopers), the pogrom occurred throughout Germany (including annexed Austria and the Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia). The name Kristallnacht has its origin in the untold numbers of broken windows of synagogues, Jewish-owned stores, community centers, and homes plundered and destroyed during the pogrom.     Read more about Kristalnact [here]

Shattered windows the day after Kristallnacht

The actions that occurred that night in 1938 culminated in a meeting on the 12th of November, chaired by Hermann Göring  who made the following statement:

I have received a letter written on the Fuehrer's orders requesting that the Jewish question be now, once and for all, coordinated and solved one way or another." The path to the “Final Solution” has now been chosen. And, all the bureaucratic mechanisms for its implementation were now in place.

The point of comparison of the events that occurred on November 9th of both 1938 and 1989 is in no way intended to minimize or trivialize the significance of either of these dates on world history...

However many decades later, association with the Kristallnacht anniversary was cited as the main reason against choosing November 9, the day the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, as the new German national holiday; a different day was chosen (October 3, 1990 as the new German reunification day).

NY Times report on Kristallnacht

This is not to say that Kristallnact has been forgotten... In fact all over Europe hundreds of commemoration and protest activities have been organized on November 9 1997, International Day Against Fascism and Anti-Semitism. The biggest demonstration took place in Yugoslavia. Between 1.000 and 3.000 people marched in the streets of Belgrade to protest against the on-going violence against Roma in their country.

In Essen 1.000 anti-fascists marched in protest against fascist violence. In the Netherlands activities took place in 11 cities all over the country in many different ways, but mainly comparing the situation of refugees in 1938 and in 1997.

The European network against nationalism, racism, fascism and in support of migrants and refugees or "UNITED for Intercultural Action" has distributed 20.000 stickers and 5.000 information leaflets explaining the history of "Kristallnacht", the purpose of the commemorations and giving examples of racist practices in Europe. The secretariat has sent out several press releases and numerous lists of activities. International journalists have been referred to specific organizations for more in depth information. The information has been spread widely through the Internet as well.

Read more here: http://www.holocaustresearchproject.org/essays&editorials/memorial-debunk-debate-debauged.html

The Holocaust Education & Archive Research Team

Copright Carmelo Lisciotto H.E.A.R.T 2009

Read the original blog entry...

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